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Stem Cell Research

Scientists Turn Human Embryonic Stem Cells into Blood Vessels

16 years, 6 months ago

2306  0
Posted on Jun 08, 2003, 1 p.m. By Bill Freeman

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have managed to coax human embryonic stem cells (ESC's) into forming capillaries. According to study leader Robert Langer, his study is the first to show that it is possible to nurture human ESC's into endothelial cells, capable of organizing themselves into vessel-like structures.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have managed to coax human embryonic stem cells (ESC's) into forming capillaries. According to study leader Robert Langer, his study is the first to show that it is possible to nurture human ESC's into endothelial cells, capable of organizing themselves into vessel-like structures.

Langer and his colleagues successfully cultured the cells so that they matured into endothelial cells. The endothelial cells were then cultured again until some of them began to form primitive vascular structures. The team also injected some of the cells into SCID mice, whose immune system would not reject the foreign cells. Tests showed that the injected cells continued to mature, and after just 14 days the cells had developed into capillaries. Further tests revealed that the newly developed capillaries contained mouse blood cells, which suggests that the capillaries had incorporated themselves into the animals' circulatory system.

The findings suggest that human ESC's could be used to repair damage caused by a heart attack or to restore blood flow to a heart whose supply had been diminished because of blocked arteries. They also suggest that scientists could grow vessels in the laboratory and use them to replace disease-ravaged arteries.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: Reported by www.ap.org on the 26th March 2002

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